Phil Ochs was a singer / songwriter in the 60s categorized as `folk’ or ‘protest’ – a contemporary and friend of Bob Dylan.
He was a most prolific writer of protest and topical songs in the 60s and put out seven albums, but his work diminished in the 70s and he sadly took his own life in 1976.
A new film has been released in the States, ‘There But For Fortune’, using mainly rare footage of Ochs. And if there was any justice, it would be made compulsory in schools and universities because this man truly believed that the power of song could change the world. He must certainly have had something, as years after his death, it came to light that the FBI had a file of no less than 500 pages on him.
Many new songwriters are discovering Ochs and his songs are as relevant today as they were then. There are hundreds of mailing lists and discussion groups dedicated to Phil and his music, and in February 2009, Phil was awarded a lifetime achievement award. Check the film out here: http://www.philochsthemovie.com/index.html.
“I’ve read of other countries where the students take a stand, they’ve even helped to overthrow the leaders of the land,” sang Ochs in “I’m Gonna Say It Now” in 1965, and the anthem of the 1960s can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5pgrKSwFJE.
You will find many parallels with this new century and the times of Phil Ochs. It just makes you wonder what he’d have made of these times and why we cannot produce anyone now with this much beauty, passion, talent and intellect in popular culture.